How to Deal with Leaks in Your Motor Vehicle

How Do I Check My Car’s Fluids?

There are many aspects of properly maintaining your vehicle, and one of them is making sure your fluids are in optimal condition. 

Engine Oil

Oil can turn black between oil changes on older vehicles without causing an engine problem, but if it happens frequently, suspect a fuel system problem. Oil will usually stay clean between recommended change intervals on newer vehicles with lean burning and highly efficient combustion. If the oil quickly turns black, a problem with the fuel injection or emission systems is likely.

If it persists or is excessive after the engine has been fully warmed up, suspect coolant leaking into the engine, which could indicate internal engine problems such as a cracked block or blown head gasket.

Engine Coolant

The color of engine coolant is usually greenish, though some of the new environmentally friendly and long-life coolants may be different. In any case, the coolant could be free of contaminants. Look for rust, scale, and crud, which can usually be fixed with a system flush and new coolant. If you notice blobs of oil in your coolant, it’s likely that engine oil is leaking in from the engine, signaling a more serious problem.

Automatic Transmission Fluid

How Do I Check My Car’s Fluids?

Wait a minute after putting a few drops of warm transmission fluid on a white paper towel. It’s fine if the fluid spreads and turns a light brown, red, or pink color. With use, AFT becomes a little darker. However, oxidation and varnish are a problem if the spot is small and dark brown or even black. It’s past time to change the fluid and have the transmission inspected.

Brake Fluid

Brake fluid that has been used and worn out is black and should be replaced. Every two years, brake systems should be flushed and replaced. During hard braking, moisture in the fluid could cause boiling and brake fade.

Battery Fluid

If you frequently have to add water to the battery, you may have cracked cells or an excessive charging rate, which necessitates a charging system inspection. Acid buildup on the outside of the battery and on the terminals are also signs of charging system issues.

Checking Leaks

Put clean newspaper, cardboard, or an old sheet under the car while it is parked to find the source of a suspected fluid leak. After some time has passed, check for drips and puddles. You can determine not only the leak’s location, but also the fluid type—brown or black for engine oil, reddish for ATF, green for engine coolant, and so on. Allow the engine to warm up, or better yet, drive for a while before parking the vehicle over the newspaper, cardboard, or sheet and observing the leak.

Oil Change in San Diego

For many years, Automobile Repair Shop San Diego has provided trusted and high-quality auto repair in San Diego. If you are experiencing any automotive issues at all in the Southern California area, call (619) 330-0862 today to learn more about how we can help you with your San Diego auto maintenance.

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